Virginia Tech will host blockchain thought leaders from around the world for its inaugural Blocksburg Summit: Blockchain and Beyond Nov. 10-12, 2019, at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Conference Center.

Attendees will hear from experts across the enterprise, education, and government spectrum while participating in a networking event aimed at understanding the challenges and opportunities of a blockchain future. Registration will be open through Nov. 4.

Part of the Virginia Tech Blockchain Initiative led by the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering, the event is designed to catalyze commonwealth, federal, and private collaboration on blockchain technologies in service to the international community.

“Virginia Tech has always served as a connection hub for diverse-minded thinkers, so it made sense to create a greater footprint for the university’s leadership and interest in blockchain technology,” said Kirk W. Cameron, associate department head for research an engagement in the Department of Computer Science. He is one of the first faculty members at Virginia Tech to teach a blockchain technology capstone course in the spring 2019 semester.

Student teams from Cameron’s course will share demos and highlights of their final project submissions as part of the Virginia Tech Blockchain Challenge Finale, a campus-wide programming contest, during the innovation reception on Monday evening.

A networking reception will launch the three-day summit on Sunday afternoon highlighted by a Virginia Tech Technology Showcase, including interdisciplinary student teams AutoDrive, pushing the envelope in the autonomous systems fields, and Hokienauts, who are currently designing and creating space suit information displays with an augmented reality environment for their second participation in the NASA SUITS Design Challenge.

The conference will commence on Monday with a Q&A forum on blockchain regulation and policy with Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce facilitated by CNBC’s Brian Sullivan, senior national correspondent and anchor of Worldwide Exchange (M-F 5 a.m.-6 a.m.) and ’93 political science alumnus. 

Securities Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce
Securities Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce
CNBC Anchor of Worldwide Exchange Brian Sullivan
CNBC Anchor of Worldwide Exchange Brian Sullivan

As a presidential appointment, Peirce has served the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since January 2018. Prior to joining the commission, she served as senior research fellow and director of the program on financial regulation at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. 

Following the Q&A session, Paul Brigner, director of technology for the Digital Chamber of Commerce, will moderate a panel discussion with experts representing all aspects of regulation and policy, from entrepreneurs to legal experts to think tanks and advocates. He also served the Digital Chamber of Commerce as the managing director of the Blockchain Technology and Ecosystem Design Research Center. 

Director of Technology Policy for Digital Chamber of Commerce Paul Brigner
Director of Technology Policy for Digital Chamber of Commerce Paul Brigner

The afternoon sessions will be framed around blockchain and the enterprise, led by John Fields, digital project manager for Capital One and Tim Abbott, manager of digital transformation technology for Moog, providing industry perspectives. David Bieri, associate professor of urban affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, at Virginia Tech, will moderate an enterprise, education, and government partnership panel, with experts, including Ryan Enderby, advisory software engineer for Food Trust Team, IBM Blockchain Solutions, and John Stevens, blockchain practice lead for Accenture Federal Services.

Collectively, they represent the innovation and job growth pipeline from enterprise workforce needs to the role of universities in blockchain-related education.

Brendan Blumer, chief executive officer for Block.one, will participate in a Q&A forum following the dinner on Monday evening. Blumer was an early investor in blockchain and transitioned to full-time involvement in the space in 2016 when he met business partner Dan Larimer and they co-founded Block.one. He has been building disruptive technology companies since 2001, when he started Gamecliff, a company that automated the valuation, purchase, and release of in-game items in the world’s largest online video games. 

Larimer, chief technology officer for Block.one, will lead the final day of the summit with a discussion about the future of blockchain and its evolution as part of the blockchain innovation session. As a Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science alumnus, Larimer also serves as a guest lecturer and curriculum advisor for Virginia Tech’s blockchain initiative. He is credited as the lead architect behind the EOSIO software, which is engineered to run highly scalable blockchain applications.

Block.one Chief Technology Officer Dan Larimer
Block.one Chief Technology Officer Dan Larimer

An innovation panel moderated by Jennifer O’Daniel, investment director for the Center for Innovation Technology, will close the summit. Since 2003, she has led seed and early-stage investments in tech companies for CIT GAP Funds, concentrating on cybersecurity and enterprise software.

O’Daniel is the co-founder and managing director of VT Investor Network, a 75-plus member angel group that invests in Hokie-led startups through the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs in the Pamplin College of Business. O’Daniel holds two bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech in management and information technology.

The innovation panel will feature short presentations from cutting-edge innovators in blockchain technologies, including Lana Kalashnyk, global blockchain technology partner lead at Amazon Web Services and Ben DiScipio, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Fundopolis.

“We are inspired by these industry harbingers who have answered our call to convene on a very important topic with which Virginia Tech is intrinsically connected,” said Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for innovation and partnerships for Virginia Tech. “The opportunities around blockchain, for all of us, are boundless. This region and Virginia Tech are at the genesis of something big.”

— Written by Jenise Jacques